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my life sucked (before i met you)

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Blaine was four years old when he took on his stepfather’s name. He never really knew his dad. He wasn’t meant to. He was born from an affair his mother had with a former gardener. He was the town’s best kept secret--the Filipino kid that came out white passing so his father could claim him however he wanted. For four years of his life, he went by his mother’s maiden name, Jensen, but then it was time for him to go to school and if anyone ever found out he wasn’t an Anderson, that he was the bastard child, their reputation would cease to exist. 

 

For a long time, Blaine had no idea he was any different from the rest of his family. He had an inkling that something was different, like how he tanned a lot easier than his mom or why his hair frizzed up in the heat when Cooper’s didn’t, but he figured it was just his cross to bear. He never remembered his name change. He had always felt, through and through, an Anderson. His stepfather never felt like a stepfather. He had always felt like his father because he had no reason to believe he wasn’t, until at ten years old, his parents sat him down to tell him the truth.

 

Cooper had just moved out a few months ago, heading to L.A. to act. Blaine was proud of his big brother. He had always looked up to Cooper and even though they fought a little more regularly than other siblings, he loved him. Sometimes people would come up to them and say they looked nothing alike. That bothered Blaine because Cooper was his brother. Why didn’t he look like his brother? For that matter, why didn’t he look like his father either? He looked most like his mother. Darker hair and a slender frame. Arched brows and an upturned nose. Her eyes were ocean blue. Both his dad and Cooper had the same eyes, but not Blaine. His eyes were hazel, usually a greener contrast and he couldn’t help wondering where they came from because they surely didn’t come from anywhere in his immediate family. Blaine always had a lot of questions, but he never asked because he feared he might not like the answer.

 

That night he hadn’t asked, but they told him anyway.

 

Blaine was sat on the loveseat juxtaposed from his parents. His father, Matthew, had his hands clasped together and his knees spread apart, staring at the perfectly clean carpet so white that Blaine worried to even bring bottled water into the living room. His mother had her legs crossed, her palms covering her bare knee as she smiled nervously at her youngest son. Blaine had just come inside from a basketball game he played with a few boys on their street at the park. He frowned, staring at his parents intently. He always worried about them--more than most kids should, and their presence was just this side of frightening. 

 

“Everything okay?” Blaine’s soft timbre broke his parents out of their reverie and finally his dad locked eyes on him. 

 

He didn’t smile like his wife did. He just stared at Blaine as if he was this foreign creature taking comfort in his couch. Blaine used the opportunity to look at his father the same way. His dad was a big guy--not fat, just bulky. His arms were the size of Blaine’s whole head and he had broad shoulders and a strong jaw. In that way, he and Cooper were exactly alike. But Blaine never had been. He had always been the little boy, so tiny he seemed almost fragile. As if the slightest graze against him might break him. His dad’s friends liked to point that out frequently. Blaine grew up with the comments of Get that boy some food, he’s skin and bone or Shouldn’t you put Blaine in some sports, get some meat on those bones? Everyone always made him feel little. Not his mom, though. She always would kiss his forehead, give him a glass of warm milk, and call him her strong little boy. Maybe Blaine was nothing like his father, but he was every part his mother and now he would know why. 

 

“Sweetie, your dad and I have something to speak to you about and I want you to listen to us carefully, okay?” his mother spoke softly, giving her son her direct attention. “Matthew?”

 

His father only grunted and he watched his mother roll her eyes subtly and begin talking again. “Right. So I know you’ve always had some questions about your appearance and where you come from and now that you’re getting older, we felt it was time to tell you the truth.”

 

“Truth? What truth?” Blaine frowned, looking at his mother. 

 

Matthew glared at his son, interjecting, “Don’t interrupt your mother.”

 

“Sorry, sir.” Blaine mumbled, looking down at his lap. He hated when his father scolded him like that.

 

“It’s okay, honey.” Pam smiled, placing a hand on her husband’s bicep to calm him. “About eleven, twelve years ago before you were born, we had a gardener. His name was Ernesto and he was very kind to me.”

 

Matthew scoffed, mumbling under his breath. “A little too kind if you ask me.”

 

“Okay…” Blaine drew out the word, trying to make sense of his mother’s story.

 

“Anyway, I grew close to Ernesto and one thing led to another and we fell for each other. Through that, I got pregnant with you.” his mother’s words were timid, almost whispers. Blaine’s eyebrows raised comically when everything started connecting.

 

“Wait, wait, wait. So dad isn’t my dad?” Blaine’s voice squeaked, his tone in the middle of childhood and adolescence. 

 

“Nope.” Matthew said with such nonchalance, but Pam glared at her husband, nudging him with her elbow. 

 

“I mean, of course I’m your dad, Blaine. Just not biologically.” He tried again at the insistence of his wife. 

 

Blaine’s eyes welled up just a little bit. His whole life felt like a lie. He ignored his father’s gaze, knowing that he was only judging him. Anderson men didn’t cry, but Blaine was a rather emotional kid. Now that he knew he wasn’t an Anderson after all, it made sense. 

 

He felt his mother’s presence as she came off the couch to kneel in front of him and thumb his tears away. “It’s okay, baby. You are no less part of this family than me, or your dad, or your brother. I should’ve told you a long time ago.”

 

Blaine mumbled, wrapping his short arms around his mother’s neck. “I love you, mama.”

 

He could feel his mother’s grin against his neck and for just a minute, Blaine felt grounded. His mom was the only person in his family that he’d ever felt this way about. He wasn’t close to his dad. More often than not, his father just whined about Blaine. He was too small. He was too emotional. He was too not his son. Now he understood why his father always seemed to favor Cooper more--because he was his flesh and blood and Blaine would never be that.

 

When his mother had left the room to start dinner and it was just him and his father in the room, Matthew let out the worst sentence yet. “If you’re gonna pretend to be an Anderson, you better stop crying.”

 

Blaine tensed up as his father walked out. And even though no one was there to see him crying, he quickly wiped away his tears. He had no connection to Ernesto. This was his family. Matthew was his dad and if he had to work a little harder for his love, he would do it. He needed to fit in here. 

 

-

 

When Blaine was twelve, he got his first girlfriend. They didn’t kiss. He hardly looked at the girl. He just held her hand on the way to lunch and walked her to her classes, sometimes he would hold her things for her. She felt much more like a best friend to him than his girlfriend. He didn’t like her that way. But the beauty of dating Natalie was that every time he went over to her house, he got to see her older brother, Ben. Ben was flamboyant and handsome and everything perfect. It was Blaine’s first encounter with someone gay. He’d never met one before and he was just constantly mesmerized by the way Ben moved.

 

One day while Blaine was over at Natalie’s, she got sick. Blaine didn’t know where any medicine was in the house and her parents were at work and Ben had an open door policy, so why wouldn’t he just walk in his bedroom for help? He should’ve knocked or spoke through the door or something, but he didn’t, so when he propped the door open and saw Ben between another guy’s legs, his head bobbing up and down, he let out a little yelp that alerted the other boys.

 

He watched Ben look back at him with flushed cheeks and red-swollen lips, trying to cover up his friend. “Blaine, what…”

 

Blaine coughed, looking up at the ceiling with flushed cheeks to rival Ben’s own. “Um, Nat-Natalie is throwing up. I-I didn’t mean--”

 

Ben turned back to his gentleman caller, zipping up his pants and pecking his lips softly. “You have to go, honey,” 

 

Blaine tried to listen to them closely, but they were basically whispering into each other’s mouth and somehow seeing how intimate they seemed just exchanging words and kissing each other gently had more of an effect on Blaine than the blowjob even had. When the other boy got off the bed and toed his shoes back on, he slipped past Blaine with a pat on his shoulder.

 

“Listen, Blaine. I-I didn’t mean for you to see--I should’ve locked the door. I’m sorry, man.” he apologized as he got off the bed, straightening out his clothes. Blaine didn’t want to, but his eyes immediately traveled down to the bulge sitting in Ben’s pants.

 

Blaine stuttered, trying to look back at Ben’s face. “I-It’s okay.”

 

“Okay. Let’s take care of Nat, then.” he smiled so easily it was like nothing had even happened. 

 

While Ben took care of his little sister, Blaine simply watched him and let his mind wander. He realized he had started looking at Ben in a way he had never looked at his girlfriend. He never found Natalie attractive. She was a pretty girl, but beyond knowing that in a general sense, he had no second thoughts about her appearance. But with Ben it was different. Ben was hot in a way that had Blaine stuttering around him and adjusting his jeans every few minutes. He knew it wasn’t normal. Boys shouldn’t react that way when looking at other boys. That’s what his dad had always taught him and he’d watched Cooper make enough gay jokes to know that his family wouldn’t be okay with one of their own being gay. But looking at the way Ben could be completely himself and his family accepted him, it made Blaine a little jealous. He’d never get that. God, he didn’t even know if he was gay. It wasn’t like he went around and kissed every boy in the grade. He’d never kissed anyone. Maybe he did like girls. Maybe he just didn’t like Natalie that way, but he had no clue either way.

 

When Ben had Natalie squared away and joined Blaine on the couch, he patted his knee to grab his attention. “You okay, kid? I didn’t traumatize you, did I?” he joked, smiling brightly. 

 

Before Blaine could even contemplate it, words started falling from his tongue. “How did you know you were gay?”

 

Ben tensed, pulling his hand away from Blaine’s knee and he sat back, slowly processing the words. “You don’t like Natalie, do you?”

 

Blaine hesitated, but he still shook his head. “I-I do. Just… not like that.” he bowed his head in shame.

 

“How long have you felt like this?” he asked, peering down at him carefully.

 

Blaine shrugged silently until he could come up with an answer. “Forever.”

 

Ben nodded in recognition. “To answer your question, I always have. When you're different, you notice it just as much as everyone else. I never really liked the things most boys my age did. I liked playing Barbies with Nat much more than Hot Wheels and I wasn’t interested in sports or girls. But there was this boy and he was my best friend and one day he just kissed me. That’s when I knew.” 

 

“I-I’ve never kissed anyone before.” Blaine mumbled.

 

Ben smiled, leaning down to press a soft kiss to Blaine’s cheek. He pulled back, taking in his reaction. “How did that feel?”

 

Blaine blushed deep red. “Good.”

 

“Courage, Blaine,” he paused. “Sexuality isn't linear, Blaine. Just because you liked that doesn’t necessarily mean you’re gay. There’s a billion different orientations, but I think we both know you aren’t straight.”

 

“No, I’m not.” And it was the first time he could admit that he wasn’t perfect.

 

-

 

A year later, it was Blaine sitting his parents on the couch to tell them something. His parents' nervous glances were reminiscent of what Blaine gave them just three years ago. He gave them a brave smile, repeating to himself Ben’s words. Courage. He stood in front of them with his hands clasped together. He’d already told Cooper. He called him last night and made him promise not to tell their parents. Cooper took it surprisingly well and Blaine for once was feeling confident that maybe coming out wouldn’t be as bad as he thought.

 

“What’s going on, honey?” his mother smiled brightly at her son, sitting at the edge of the seat with undivided attention. His father however was leaning against the couch with his arms crossed. 

 

Blaine let out a shuddery breath, clapping his hands together. “Okay, so there’s something I need to tell you guys and it’s, it’s big, okay?”

 

“You didn’t get somebody pregnant, did you?” his father interjected and Blaine immediately gagged.

 

“Pregnant? Dad, I’m a kid!” he exclaimed in horror.

 

“So was your mom when she had Coop.” he mumbled. Pam smacked her husband’s arm and he held up his hands in defense.

 

Blaine waited a second, certain that his father was just going to interrupt him again, but when only silence filled the room, he smiled and began his speech. “Okay, so you know how I’ve been seeing Natalie for a while? We broke up today.”

 

Pam and Matthew’s smiles dropped and his mother made to get up off the couch to comfort her son, but he held out a hand, telling her to pause. “No, no. It’s okay. Um, so the reason is that I'm… I'm gay. I-I like boys. Not girls."

 

The silence was deafening. Blaine chewed on his fingernails, just waiting and waiting for a response from either one of his parents. His mother was worrying her bottom lip between her teeth, her hands fidgeting as she decided whether or not it was okay to reach out for her admittedly queer son. His father however pursed his lips, his arms somehow crossing even tighter across his chest as he watched Blaine carefully. Blaine must have stared at them for a full five minutes without any reaction. 

 

Finally he couldn't take the silence anymore and broke, "Say something, please. Anything."

 

Pam cleared her throat, her eyes emitting nothing but kindness. "Well… I can't say I'm in love with the idea, but if that's who you are, okay."

 

"Okay? You're okay with it?" Blaine looked up at her hopeful. She nodded. He turned to his father nervously. "Dad?"

 

Matthew sighed, pushing himself up off the couch by his knuckles. "I think… I think I'm gonna go to bed. Goodnight, son."

 

It felt like someone had just dropped a fifty pound dumbbell on his chest. It felt like someone had cut him limb from limb. That's what it felt like for his dad to say nothing at all. Blaine bit his lip so hard he could taste the metallic tang of blood. Tears were freely falling down his face, but he couldn't register them. Not until his mother wrapped him tight in her arms and he let himself let go of the ugly sobs he knew he couldn't stop. 

 

"It's okay, baby. It's all going to be okay." she repeated over and over, wanting to take away her little boy's pain forever. 

 

-

 

Months after Blaine had come out to his parents, his dad still wasn't talking to him. Or maybe the better term was that he wasn't talking to Blaine about that. All their conversations were banal, unimportant. Simple topics like the weather or how Blaine did on a test. The day after Blaine came out, his father came home with a beaten up clunker of a car, suggesting that he and Blaine fix it up and have some father-son bonding time.  

 

Blaine wasn't stupid. He knew this was his father's way of trying to dirty him up. As if grease could change someone's sexuality. But Blaine humored him, allowing himself to help him fix up this car and neither of them knew what they were doing. His father was certainly no mechanical aficionado. 

 

"Hand me the wrench, please." Matthew states, his hand outstretched as he has his head buried under the hood of a vintage Mustang. 

 

Blaine complies, handing his father the tool and kicking his heels against the concrete floor of their garage. The scuffling alerts Matthew and pulls away from the engine to look at his son curiously. 

 

"Something bothering you?" It was the first time since Blaine came out that his father seemed to attempt a real conversation with him. 

 

Blaine shrugged, focusing on the stain of grease on the floor. "Sadie Hawkins is coming up."

 

His father wipes his hands off with a rag set to the side, closing the hood and leaning against it. "That's when the girls ask the guys, right?"

 

Blaine nodded. He could see his dad tense up a little bit, but he still willed himself to speak. "And no one's gonna ask you because you're…"

 

Matthew couldn't say the word, but it didn't seem to bother Blaine as he finished the phrase for him. 

 

"Gay, yeah."

 

"Okay," Matthew drew out the word, throwing the rag down on the toolbox. "You can't go with Natalie?"

 

Blaine shook his head. "No. She has a new boyfriend now."

 

"No other friends that are girls? You can't go with the boys on your baseball team?" Matthew reasoned. Blaine shrugged in response. 

 

He hesitated before he began speaking. "Well, there's this boy." Matthew froze in place and it made Blaine nervous. "Not like that, dad. Just… he's the only other out kid at school and it might be nice to go to a dance with someone who gets it. You know?"

 

His father seemed to consider the words for a moment, shoving his hands into the pocket of his blue jeans (a rare occurrence for the patriarch). 

 

"Ask him, then." 

 

Blaine looked at his father with wide eyes. He never expected any actual advice from his father. Things had always been rocky between them and considering his reaction to Blaine's coming out, he never expected his father to tell him to ask a guy out. 

 

"What?" His father looked at his son with nonchalance. "It doesn't make you a girl. Somebody's gotta do it. Might as well be you. Now, go on inside and help mom with dinner."

 

Blaine nodded, getting up and racing towards the garage door before his father called his name.

 

"Blaine -- just, I do love you, you know. I-I'm proud of you." the words stuttered from his dad's lips, but they still managed to fill Blaine's heart. 

 

Blaine smiled warmly, looking at his father fondly. "I know, dad. Love you too." And with that, he ran inside to help his mother. It finally felt like he was where he belonged. 

 

-

 

Two weeks later found Blaine waiting on his front porch for his date all dressed up in his little tux, his hair immaculately gelled and smelling fresh as a field of lilac. His mom fretted over his appearance a billion times while he got ready, but he paid her no mind. He was more anxious about the idea of actually going to a school dance with another guy. 

 

Eli was really nice. He was also very attractive, but he didn't really see anything happening between the two of them. He was just grateful Eli had agreed to be his date, and even that was a loosely coined term. They didn't know each other all that well. All that they really knew was that they were the only out guys at school. They didn't have many friends, certainly not of the male population. It got lonely sometimes. Blaine felt lucky that he got to share this with someone even in a platonic way. Being able to go with someone he could be attracted to far outweighed going with a girl and feeling like her gay pet. 

 

Eli's dad pulled up in the middle of his thoughts and he rubbed his sweaty palms off on his trousers as Eli got out of the car to approach him. The other boy's dark hair was gelled back to mirror Blaine's own and he looked tall in his suit. In his hands he held a clear box with a green carnation in it. 

 

"Hey," Eli smiled so confidently, looking down at the box in his hands. "So I did some research and Oscar Wilde used to wear green carnations. People say that it could have been how gay men recognized each other back then and I thought it might be cool to have something no one else will understand."

 

Blaine felt his heart burst. It was the nicest thing anyone had ever done for him and he nodded, letting Eli pin it on him. When he finished, he brushed Blaine's lapel down with a smile. 

 

"It even matches your eyes," he smiled. 

 

Eli's father called from the car. "Ready to go, boys?"

 

Eli called back his reply, grabbing Blaine's hand and pulling them to the backseat. He couldn't help the little flutter in his chest at the touch. It was the first time another boy had ever held his hand and it felt heavenly. No one ever told him that it was going to feel miles different to holding a girl's hand. 

 

Eli let go of his hand once they were in the car, buckling himself in. Once Blaine was situated, he took a look around and noticed a lighthouse figurine on the dash, along with one hanging from the mirror. 

 

Blaine furrowed his brows, looking at Eli curiously. "What's with all the lighthouses?"

 

Eli snorted. "That's where my parents met. It's this really romantic story. Basically my mom was trespassing and my dad was the cop who found her and rather than write her up, he gave her his phone number. Like it sounds dumb when you hear it, but I don't know. There's something beautiful about just immediately you've found the one. The lighthouse I guess to us just symbolizes putting it all out on the line and taking a chance. I think that's what we're doing tonight."

 

"Taking a chance. Yeah, I think we are." Blaine smiled in recognition, feeling completely at ease. That feeling quickly went away the moment Eli's dad pulled up in front of the school gymnasium. Suddenly he wanted the ground to swallow him whole. 

 

Eli noticed his unease while they unloaded from the car. He stood behind Blaine, placing his hands on his shoulders and squeezing them gently. "Hey, no worries. It's just you and me. Forget about them."

 

"How are you so confident when all they do is make us feel small?" Blaine mumbled, his eyes shiny just thinking about all the things people said to him on a daily basis. 

 

Eli shrugged. "The way I see it is that being gay is a part of me, but not who I am. So if some jackass wants to call me a fag, let him. In four years, these people aren't gonna matter anyway." 

 

"Okay." Blaine nodded, taking in Eli's words and letting them guard right around his heart. He repeated Ben's mantra again. Courage. 

 

Eli smiled, walking with Blaine into the gymnasium. They kept their distance from each other, which wasn't exactly a hard feat considering they didn't know each other all that well, mainly because they didn't want to draw attention to themselves. From there it felt easier. Of course there were some stares. Blaine got more than his fair share of glares and stink eye. A few slurs were even thrown their way, but each boy took it in stride, simply shrugging off the words like they were a stuffy winter coat and making their way to the dance floor. 

 

It got tough halfway through the night when a slow song came on. Blaine fidgeted, his feet already moving to go back to their table, but Eli was faster and grabbed his waist, pulling him back against him. 

 

"What are you doing?" Blaine stared at him wide-eyed, whispering harshly. 

 

"Dancing with my date just like everybody else. Just relax, B. I won't let anything happen to you." Eli assured his date, pulling one of Blaine's hands to his waist and grasping the other in his hand. 

 

They stayed like that, mindless of everybody else around them. As the song neared its close, Blaine took a leap of faith and laid his head on Eli's shoulder. He could feel the little rumble of laughter emit from Eli's chest as he nestled into Blaine's embrace. It felt beautiful, like this was what Blaine had been missing his whole life. It wasn't necessarily anything to do with Eli. But it was that obvious maleness enveloping him, being able to hold and be held back, that just swallowed him whole. He knew then that this was all he had ever wanted -- that someday it will be him and his husband dancing on a floor and embracing each other just like this. 

 

It all came crashing down when it was time to go home. They sat alone on a bench at the north side of campus waiting for Eli's dad to pick them up. Eli's fingers were starfished across Blaine's own and he felt his heart beat rapidly. It felt like the moment. He was finally going to have his first kiss. But just as Eli started leaning in, a harsh voice broke them apart, startling them. 

 

"Hey fags! Break it up." Blaine squinted his eyes, trying to decipher who it was, but he didn't look familiar to Blaine at all. He must be older. 

 

"Fuck off." Eli retorted, rolling his eyes and grabbing Blaine's hand firmly to pull him away from the bully. But before they could leave, another high school kid was standing in front of them, blocking their way. And then suddenly there were five boys surrounding them and Blaine felt his breath hitch and Eli's hand tighten on his own. 

 

Eli pushed Blaine behind himself, letting himself be the main event. Blaine jerked when one of the boys punched Eli in the stomach and he came tumbling down. His eyes flitted back and forth between the two boys who started inching closer to him, blocking him between their bodies and the wall of the gym. His breath was shaky. It felt like his legs were going to fall out from underneath him. Then as if the words were antibiotics, pure adrenaline rushed through him as Eli called out. 

 

"Run, Blaine!"

 

But try as he might, his legs weren't long and they were faster. One push to his back and he was on the ground, his head turned to Eli who was bruised and bloodied and he let silent tears fall down, barely feeling all the kicks and punches to him as his heart shattered in two. And before long, darkness was starting to take over and his eyes fluttered shut. 

 

Courage, Blaine. 

 

-

 

Blaine awoke to the steady beep of the machines surrounding him in his hospital room. His eyes fluttered open, blaring shut at the fluorescent lights attacking him. He groaned throatily, scrunching his face up in pain when a kaleidoscope of different sensations hit him all at once. He felt a squeeze at his hand and he looked down to see his mother with a tear streaked face staring at him hopefully, a sudden smile on her face.

 

“Honey Bee.” his mother whispered, jumping up from her seat next to his bedside and immediately throwing her body over her son’s bruise riddled one.

 

Blaine groaned in strikes of pain as his father pulled his mother back by her elbow and mumbles to her. “He’s broken, honey. Back off a little.”

 

“What…” Blaine’s tongue smacked against the top of his mouth, trying to rid himself of the way his breath tasted. “What happened, dad?”

 

He could feel the faint press of his dad’s fingertips, brushing his curls back over his forehead. “Well, you got attacked after the dance, bud. They broke your arm. You have a few nasty bruises and a headache, but the doctor said you’ll be okay.”

 

All of a sudden it was like every memory of that night came back in full focus. He tensed, almost able to feel the steel toe boot of his attacker kicking into his side. His brain hurt as it focused on the memory of Eli laying flat on the ground, his body moving like a marionette any time he was hit. Blaine jumped in the bed, mindless of his bruises, though he hissed at the pain.

 

“What about Eli? Is Eli okay?” his brows furrowed together in worry, eyes darting back and forth between his parents.

 

His mother frowned, looking over at her husband. “He’s not doing great, honey. He got hurt a lot worse than you. He just got out of surgery a few hours ago.”

 

The words hit him like two sticks of dynamite strapped to his chest. “Can… Can I go see him?”

 

His father sighed heavily, looking back and forth between the door and his son's hopeful eyes before he reluctantly nodded. "Okay, fine."

 

Thirty minutes later, his father was wheeling him into Eli's room. Eli's parents seemed hesitant to let Blaine in, but with much pandering from his father they agreed. Eli was out from the pain medication anyway. Matthew wheeled his son up to Eli's bedside, stepping away to let them have their privacy. 

 

Blaine took a shuddery breath, raising his hand to grasp Eli's. He took in the sight of his brave friend and it made tears well up in his eyes. Eli had a black eye. His stomach was all bandaged up and his leg was hung up in a cast. He looked like hell. Blaine squeezed his hand softly and the action seemed to pull Eli out of unconsciousness as his eyes adjusted to the light and Blaine's figure. 

 

"B-Blaine," Eli's voice was fried and raspy as he mumbled Blaine's name, but his eyes spoke for him. Green irises wide and wet, but so so hopeful. "You're okay."

 

"Yeah. I'm okay, Eli. I'm okay." Blaine repeated, squeezing the other boy's hand just a little tighter. Eli couldn't move much, but he tried to squeeze back. 

 

"My parents are making me transfer." Eli spoke softly. "I-I'm gonna miss you, Blaine."

 

Blaine finally let a tear fall. "Me too. I'll miss you too. I think… I think they're gonna make me transfer too. I just--you saved my life, Eli. I can never repay you."

 

Eli coughed slightly, pulling his hand away. "You don't have to. Just knowing you're okay, that's all that matters."

 

Blaine bowed his head and let the tears fall like a river. He barely recognized Eli's thumb tracing his jaw. 

 

"Lay with me?" Eli offered bright eyes with a matching smile as he tried to move over. 

 

Blaine grinned through his sadness, moving past his own pain to maneuver his way onto the bed, next to his hero of a friend. He snuggles into Eli's side, laying his head in the crook of his neck. When their parents returned to the room to find them snoozing away in each other's arms, they all shared a knowing smile and backed out of the room, leaving the boys with their last moments of peace. 

 

-

 

Months of recovery found him on the steps of his new school that fateful March day. He’d been messaging Eli, calling him at every free opportunity, but since he started at his new school, Blaine hadn’t heard much from him. Eli was in a whole other state. He moved down to Kentucky where most of his relatives lived, but Blaine was still stuck in Ohio and he had to do this all on his own. He was now going to Dalton Academy, an all-boys boarding school. In some ways, it felt like his parents were just trying to get rid of him. He knew his parents were slowly warming up to his sexuality but that his attack scared them. Maybe they thought if they didn’t have to see it so obviously, it would be easier to forget about. They could be reassured by Dalton’s zero tolerance bullying policy and assume the best of their son, pretend that every day of his life wasn’t going to be a never ending cycle of harassment and abuse like what happened a few months ago.

 

Blaine was doing his best to adjust as he settled into the Academy. His parents weren’t even here. Some business banquet thing that his father was hosting that his mother just had to accompany him to, so Cooper flew in from L.A. to settle him into his new school and his dorm room. 

 

Blaine sat down on his new bed with a sullen look. Cooper noticed quickly, sitting down next to him and ruffling his hair. “You okay, squirt?”

 

Blaine shrugged. “This just isn’t really how I saw my freshman year going, Coop. I miss home and mom and Eli. I just wanna go home.”

 

Cooper frowned. “Bud, it’s not safe there and you know that. What you went through scared the shit out of me and knowing that it could happen again…” he shook his head from the barrage of nasty images. “No. You’re safe here, B. We need you to be safe.”

 

Blaine rolls his eyes in response. “I can take care of myself. I’m already doing boxing. If anyone gives me trouble I know what to do.”

 

“Just because you know what to do doesn’t mean you should have to. Mom and dad don’t understand it, I know, but they’re just trying to protect you, okay? And who knows--maybe you’ll end up loving this place.”

 

“Doubt it.” Blaine murmurs under his breath just as the door opens to a friendly face. It’s a boy about the same age as Blaine. He has the Dalton issued uniform on and fluffy dark hair. His eyes are serene, calming. A dark stormy grey that should make Blaine feel uneasy but instead fills him with warmth and maybe that has to do with the bright smile that accompanies them and the hand that is extending towards him.

 

“You must be Blaine. I’m your roommate, Nick.” his roommate introduced himself, hand outstretched to shake. Blaine looks down at it warily for a moment. Guys don’t typically want to shake his hand or even look in his general direction, but he takes a deep breath and braces a good enough smile, shaking back.

 

“Alright, squirt. My job is done. I’ll call you tonight, okay?” Cooper tells his little brother, ruffling his hair once more. Blaine nods, letting his brother exit the room with a brave smile. 

 

Once Cooper has left, it’s just the two boys left to their own devices. Blaine looks around the room in curiosity. He’s never shared a room before. Cooper was always so much older than Blaine and it wasn’t like their parents were ever low on money, so there wasn’t ever any need for a roommate, but now he was here with Nick and he knew absolutely nothing about him. He had a Harry Potter poster on his wall so at least they had something in common. Nick looked like a Hufflepuff. He seemed very loving and compassionate. Or at least that’s what Blaine gathered from the five minutes they’ve known each other.

 

“So, where are you from?” Nick attempts small talk, his hands laying in his lap.

 

“Uh, Columbus.” he mumbles. “You?”

 

“Indiana, actually. I, uh, I had some trouble back home, so my parents packed everything up and sent me here.” Nick smiles softly, his eyes warm as he stares at Blaine who seems less than thrilled to be here right now.

 

“What kind of trouble?” Blaine stares at him warily.

 

Nick purses his lips, shrugging. “I fell in with the wrong crowd for a while. Dalton straightened me out. Why are you here, if that’s okay to ask?”

 

Blaine let out a big puff of air. “I… I’m gay and the guys at my old school didn’t like that very much. I got hurt. My parents got scared, so now I’m here.”

 

Nick nodded thoughtfully. “I can dig that. Welcome to Dalton, Blaine. We’re really excited to have you.”

 

Blaine felt the flutters in his stomach come back. Not once had he ever seen someone else, someone not gay, who had accepted him so easily, so fast. The way Nick seemed to just immediately welcome him with open arms pried something from Blaine’s hands. His safety net was gone. Ever since he came out Blaine had been protecting himself. He didn’t wear what he wanted, he didn’t talk to people, he didn’t even use his regular voice. He would lower his cadence to seem more manly (and by the way, do you know how hard it is to lower your voice while you’re going through puberty?). Blaine had to protect himself to keep from getting hurt and asking Eli to that date was his first mistake. He blamed himself for what happened to them, so the idea that another guy who wasn’t like him could just smile and let him in broke him in a way.

 

Blaine’s breath caught in his throat. “You’re okay with that? With me?”

 

Nick looked at him with confusion, patting his shoulder. “Of course I am. That’s who you are. Wear it proudly, Blaine.”

 

Blaine let his hand rest on top of Nick’s as a tear fell down his cheek. For the first time in his life he felt accepted. Nick pulled away after Blaine got himself together. “Now, c’mon. I have some friends I want you to meet.”

 

Blaine took a deep breath, following behind Nick out of their dorm room. He was let down the fancy halls to the cafeteria where paintings and pictures littered the walls and a fancy buffet of food lined the center of the room. This was far removed from what he was used to. He grew up with money, but even the best public school was still a public school and he’d never seen something so extravagant. Nick led them to the back corner of the lunchroom where a group of boys about their age were surrounding a circular table, laughing and throwing wrappers at each other. Even when Blaine was on the baseball team, before he was even out, he’d never seen something like that. He’d never been a part of something like that.

 

Nick pulled him by his sleeve, directing him to a chair right next to a beach blond boy with a hilarious laugh. “Guys, this is Blaine. He’s my new roomie. Blaine, these are the Warblers.”

 

“Warblers?” Blaine mumbled in confusion.

 

The blond answered. “We’re Dalton’s glee club. I’m Jeff. And that’s Wes, David, Thad and Trent.”

 

Each boy waved at him as they were introduced. Blaine wiggled his fingers in response as he listened to Jeff speak. Blaine had always loved singing, but it was something he wasn’t really allowed to do often. They didn’t have a music program at his old school and any singing he did was done in the shower. He used to do piano lessons when he was younger, but he’d lost touch with it as he went into middle school. Getting back into it sounded therapeutic. After the year he'd had, he could use some more music in his life. 

 

"Could I maybe… am I allowed to audition?" Blaine mumbled, his eyes darting anxiously between each of the Warblers. 

 

The Asian one, Wes if he remembered correctly, smiled. "We'd love to have you audition. Tell you what, we have practice after school tomorrow. Come by then and you can try out."

 

Blaine managed to smile for the first time in a long time and suddenly it felt like everything was changing for him again. He didn't hold his hopes too high, though. It seemed like every time things were looking up, something always crashed down right on top of him.